Thailand issues warrant for ‘foreign’ bomb suspect
Police in Thailand issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for an “unidentified foreign man” shown in a security video leaving behind a backpack just minutes before a deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine, but acknowledged they’re not sure of his nationality.
Police also released a sketch of the man they believe carried out Monday’s bombing and offered a 1 million baht ( US$ 28,000) reward for help leading to his arrest. But apart from the rough portrait, authorities had few solid leads.
At a news conference earlier in the day, the national police chief expressed uncertainty about the man’s origin. Somyot Poompanmoung said the suspect “looks like a foreigner” but “might have been in a disguise and wearing a fake nose” to conceal his identity.
Two days after the attack, which authorities have called the worst in Thai history, the openair Erawan Shrine reopened to the public. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast that left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured at one of the capital’s busiest intersections during evening rush hour.
A grainy security video shows the man, wearing a yellow T- shirt and shorts, sitting on a bench at the shrine, taking off a black backpack and leaving it behind as he stands up and then walks away. Time stamps on the video show he left the shrine 15 minutes before the explosion, which struck just before 7 p.m.
“If citizens or anyone can give us information or clues that lead to the arrest of this man, I have set a reward of 1 million baht,” Somyot said, adding that police believe the bomber worked with accomplices.
“It’s a Network”
“He didn’t do it alone, for sure. It’s a network,” Somyot said. Police spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri said the security video appears to show two possible accomplices standing in front of the man who are also considered suspects.
Police composed the sketch based on the video and a description provided by a motorcycle taxi driver believed to have given him a ride on Mon- day night.
The sketch shows a young man in eyeglasses with bushy, dark hair that is cropped at the sides. The warrant describes him as tall, with a pointed nose and thick lips. He faces six charges including conspiring to commit premeditated murder and conspiring to commit a bombing that resulted in death and severe injuries.
The attack has raised concerns about safety in a city that draws millions of tourists.
The Erawan Shrine is a revered spot among Thais and tourists that transcends religion. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, but is extremely popular among Thailand’s Buddhists as well as Chinese tourists.
On Wednesday morning, a stream of people arrived at the shrine, kneeling in prayer, lighting incense and placing flowers at the site where 36 hours earlier the explosion scattered body parts across one of the capital’s busiest intersections. Buddhist monks in saffron robes joined members of the public to chant prayers.
Among those who paid respects was an office worker, Nuansupha Sarunsikarin, who expressed shock and sadness over the attack.
“I’m depressed for those innocent people who had to pay for something they’re not involved with and now have no chance to live their lives,” Nuansupha said.
(Left) Damage is visible on the statue of Phra Phrom, which is the Thai interpretation of the Hindu god Brahma, after Monday’s bombing at the Erawan Shrine at Rajprasong intersection in Bangkok, Wednesday, Aug. 19. (Right) This image released by the Royal Thai Police on Wednesday shows a detailed sketch of the main suspect in a bombing that killed a number people at the Erawan shrine in downtown Bangkok on Monday.